Commissaire Georges Dupin (Murder on Brittany Shores, 2016, etc.) strays off his patch to probe a murder in the salt marshes of Guérande.
The White Land is almost impossible to describe. Its light, filtered by clouds and reflected upward by the shallow pools of the salt gardens, its scent of seawater, iodine, and “a curious fragrance of violets” that fills the air after the harvest of the most delicate sea salt, fleur de sel, combine to form a landscape that even sturdy, sensible folk like Dupin’s secretary, Nolwenn, swear is the work of the fairies. But it's not fairies who shoot at Dupin when he finds himself on Maxime Daeron’s salt farm; it’s someone who wants to stop him from investigating a report from his friend Lilou Breval, a journalist with Ouest-France, of suspicious blue barrels out on the marshes. Dupin won’t be stopped, not by a painful flesh wound that sends him briefly to the hospital, not by the death of Lilou, whose body is found in Gulf of Morbihan, not even by the realization that the salt flats are in the Department Loire-Atlantique and therefore out of his jurisdiction. Instead, he teams up with charming, determined Commissaire Sylvaine Rose of the Commissariat de Police Guérande. Dupin’s delicate negotiation of his necessary but challenging relationship with Rose, his careful but unobtrusive detailing of the mechanics of salt farming, and his growing affection for the landscape of Brittany are just some of the joys of his latest outing.
Bannelec’s Breton adventures are some of the best French local color going, with a deft blend of puzzle, personality, and description of the indescribable.